My Journey to Tonsillectomy Recovery

It’s officially day 13 of my road to post-op tonsillectomy recovery. I wanted to write about this whole ordeal so that I’d have something to look back on when I’m feeling shitty and make myself realize I’ve been in a shittier time such as this. No joke. Even celebrities who went through it can attest to that (yup, it’s good emotional band-aid for what I’m feeling).

 

The people close to me who went through tonsillectomy as adults are all men: my dad, and 2 Titos (uncle). They said I’d be fine. That tonsil-free life will be breezy, that I would only lose the ability to eat for a few days and it will all be happiness and ice cream for a week tops. They did NOT mention the pain.

Here are the things I’ve had to go through in the past 13 days of craziness:

  • Tonsillectomy recovery in adulthood hurts. A lot. I KNEW that it would hurt. Prior to my scheduled surgery I would go through twitter’s #tonsillectomy hashtag and read tweets from people suffering during their recovery process. I took it all into heart but didn’t really imagine the kind of pain I would be dealing with.
  • Surgery was a breeze. I was given general anesthesia then zapped into the realm of nothingness while they did shit to my throat. Waking up in the recovery room with all the pain suppressants administered during surgery starting to wear off was the start of my agonizing journey. Pre and post-surgery I could not eat or drink anything. From Friday morning to Sunday morning (or about 30 hours in total) all I had to put in my mouth were my meds and the tiniest sip of water to help it go down. I am serious. The IV drip was my lifeline.
  • I admit I have a pretty good threshold for pain (brazilian wax is almost a walk in the park, not afraid of needles) but this wasn’t really all about the pain. It was more about daily survival because it isn’t the kind of pain that just hits you once then gradually ends in a few hours or so. It literally lingers for days (weeks now, in my experience) on end and that’s where I had the hardest time, I think. Dealing with it all. It messes with you mentally and physically.
  • Reading this recent entry about another blogger’s tonsillectomy recovery process, I found myself agreeing to most of the things she mentioned. This inspired me to make my own.
  • Social media was my punching bag through it all. I would post about my struggle every waking moment on Twitter and update my Facebook friends about how I was going through hell. It became my therapy for when I wanted to scratch my eyes out from all the discomfort I was feeling.
  • The first week, painkillers were my best friend. Then came a point where it didn’t work as well as it did anymore. That was also a struggle in itself. I also have this fear that I would become so dependent on them so I never did once ask for an increase in dose or re-filled my prescription. Powered through the pain.
  • I experienced bleeding last week. Suddenly I felt blood in my throat so I spat the weird feeling out in the sink and there was blood, then blood clots, then I started feeling/tasting blood all over my throat. It freaked me out so much, then suddenly I felt like my throat had just been slit open by a small blade and I couldn’t talk because it would sting. So all I did was cry and ask my mom to call my ENT. He said to just keep eating ice cubes and if it persisted go to the ER. I don’t know how many ice cubes I ate that night. For precaution I still did go to the ER even though the bleeding gradually subsided. Good thing there was no active bleeding anymore once I reached the ER but when the doctor let me open my mouth to check on it, I then gagged a blood clot out. That seemed like the last of it. What an ordeal. I was sent home half an hour later with a prescription to stop the bleeding. The next day, no more blood.
  • Tonsillectomy recovery doesn’t hinder you too much to do things outside of eating.. you can walk, do normal things as long as it doesn’t take physical effort, do work provided that it’s in bed (I did a lot of remote work from bed otherwise I would have gone crazy thinking about the pain) but because your diet is so bad, you’re hardly eating and/or not eating right, you feel so weak and the pain just keeps you from doing anything! Of course the whole thought of trying to avoid a bleeding scare was also a good reason to stay put and keep yourself busy with things you can do in bed. Thank goodness for technology.. and books! Reading while in the hospital kept me sane throughout all the pain and the inability to talk.
  • I am known to have a volume when I talk. Post-tonsillectomy, that all changed. I could barely talk with my usual volume, it became challenging to speak with my usual tone and for a good week I hardly spoke. If I needed to, I spoke really softly without exerting any effort into my vocal chords. Somehow any vibration would hurt my throat. It was rough. Literally.
  • Don’t even get me started on yawning, burping, coughing, or sneezing (in that order) because that was hell. Yawning, in particular takes the cake. In the first week of my recovery I made sure I slept a lot so I hardly yawned, but during the second week I started going to work half days so yawning was more frequent, and more annoying. I just yawned right about now and even though I consider myself to be on the road to full recovery, it still hurts like fuck.
  • My diet for about a week had to be cold, soft, and not spicy. Ice cream was a good remedy but it was still annoying because it produced a lot of snotty feels inside my throat. Ice was my best friend. Porridge was my diet for a good 10 days. Not pretty and I don’t think I can look at another porridge for a while now. I lost weight, somewhere around 10-15lbs (HOPE I KEEP IT). How could I not when there are times I did not eat for a good 40 hours. I could survive. Because even hunger couldn’t win against the pain I felt every time I tried to swallow something.
  • I have a cold right now. My throat is so fucking itchy and my snot very liquid that it falls on its own. I keep sneezing too. It’s not a pretty feeling but it’s bearable. A fellow tonsillectomy survivor on twitter told me that this is probably opiate withdrawal (especially codeine my bff for a while). I stopped taking my pain meds because I didn’t want to be too dependent and as a result, I am met with this cold. And cough. A full-blown flu, basically. It sucks.

I guess this will all end soon, right? Day 13 and counting. I hope when I create another entry I will have better things to say about this ordeal. For now, that’s the rough journey I had to go through to reach this point. In retrospect, time seems to pass by pretty quickly and the next thing I know, I could be pain-free. I cannot wait.

4 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Aw, I hope you get well soon, Justine! 🙂 I never had a surgery, but just thinking about it makes me cringe… My mom had her gall bladder out and it took her sometime to actually deal with the pain. What more if it’s on your throat and you can’t eat properly. 🙁

    You can do this!!!

  2. Get well soon! I can only imagine the pain. It sounds quite an ordeal and it somehow reminds me of my grandmother when she told us about the time she had her tonsillectomy without anaesthesia due to the war.

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